Subtitling 8 Mile in three languages: Translation problems and translator licence

Kristiina Taivalkoski-Shilov

Abstract

This article argues that when striving for quality in subtitling, special attention should be paid to the requirements of competence not only when recruiting translators, but also when recruiting local managers and subtitling co-ordinators. The findings are based on a stylistic comparison of the Finnish, French and Russian subtitled versions of 8 Mile, a film that tells about Eminem’s early breakthrough as a rap artist (UIP, 2002). The rap sections of the film present many ‘text-specific translation problems’ (Nord), which become even more troublesome in the context of subtitling, as the translator has space for less text. The worldwide subtitling and dubbing of 8 Mile was an especially well-supervised procedure. The translators were given a lot of material support (e.g., a detailed ‘dialogue list’) but their work was also strictly controlled and limited. According to this study, the severe policy of some local UIP offices may have hindered the quality of subtitling in some countries.

Keywords
Table of contents

The worldwide subtitling and dubbing of 8 Mile, a film that documents Eminem’s early breakthrough as a rap artist (United International Pictures [UIP] 2002, director: Curtis Hanson, featuring Eminem, Kim Basinger, Brittany Murphy and Mekhi Phifer), was an especially well-supervised procedure. According to Jody Toll, an experienced coordinator in the field of screen translation who worked for UIP on this project, it was the most carefully prepared she had seen during the whole of her career (Jody Toll, e-mail communication, 20.8.2003). Toll supervised all the translations of the rap sections worldwide. In this article, I will discuss the [ p. 250 ]Finnish, French and Russian subtitles of the rap sections of the film. In Finland the film was subtitled by the well-known rap artist MC Paleface, i.e. Karri Miettinen, whose mentor was an experienced subtitler for film and television, Janne Staffans. Paleface had more space for his subtitles than Finnish subtitlers usually do, because this film was not simultaneously given Swedish subtitles. The film’s French subtitler, Marc Girard-Ygor, is a professional screen translator, who both dubs and subtitles from English and Spanish. In Russia, the official version of 8 Mile was subtitled by Dimitri Usachov, who has been active professionally as translator, author and director in film dubbing since 1988. Usachov proposed a rhymed and free translation of the rap parts (see Appendices 1 and 2). However, the translation was not accepted by UIP, and another translator—despite my many inquiries, UIP will not reveal who subtitled the raps.

Full-text access is restricted to subscribers. Log in to obtain additional credentials. For subscription information see Subscription & Price. Direct PDF access to this article can be purchased through our e-platform.

References

Ballard, Michel
2003Versus: la version réfléchie. Anglais-français, vol. I “Repérages et paramè¬tres”. Paris: Éditions Ophrys.Google Scholar
Berman, Antoine
1985 “La traduction comme épreuve de l’étranger”. Texte 4. 67–81.Google Scholar
Chapdelaine, Annick Gillian Lane-Mercier
1994 “Présentation”. TTR 7:2. 7–10.   Crossref logoGoogle Scholar
Chen, Chapman
2004 “On the Hong Kong Chinese subtitling of English swearwords”. Meta 49:1. 135–147.   Crossref logoGoogle Scholar
Crowe, Nick
2004 “Rap’s last tape”. Prospect, March 2004. 46–51.Google Scholar
Delabastita, Dirk
1994 “Focus on the pun: Wordplay as a special problem in Translation Studies”. Target 6:2. 223–243. Google Scholar
Díaz-Cintas, Jorge
2001 “Striving for quality in subtitling: The role of a good dialogue list”. Gambier and Gottlieb 2001 . 199–211.   Crossref logoGoogle Scholar
2003Teoría y prática de la subtitulación inglés/español. Barcelona: Ariel.Google Scholar
Englund Dimitrova, Birgitta
1997 “Translation of dialect in fictional prose: Vilhelm Moberg in Russian and English as a case in point”. Norm, variation and change in language: Proceed¬ings of the Centenary Meeting of the Nyfilologiska sällskapet Nedre Manilla 22–23 March 1996. Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell International 1997 49–65. [= Stockholm Studies in Modern Philology, New Series, 11.]Google Scholar
Folkart, Barbara
1991Le conflit des énonciations: Traduction et discours rapporté. Montréal: Les Éditions Balzac.Google Scholar
Forman, Murray
2002The ’hood comes first: Race, space, and place in Rap and Hip-Hop. Mid-dletown, Conneticut: Wesleyan University Press.Google Scholar
Frere-Jones, Sasha
2004 “Eminem’s growing pains”. The New Yorker, December 6, 2004. 119–121.Google Scholar
Gambier, Yves
2002 “Les censures dans la traduction audiovisuelle”. TTR 15:2. 203–222.Google Scholar
Gambier, Yves and Henrik Gottlieb
eds. 2001(Multi) media translation: Concepts, practices, and research. Amsterdam/Philadelphia:John Benjamins.   Crossref logoGoogle Scholar
Gates, Henry Louis Jr.
1988The signifying monkey: A theory of African-American literary criti¬cism. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Gottlieb, Henrik
1997/2004 “‘You got the picture?’: On the polysemiotics of subtitling word¬play”. Gottlieb 2000/2004 53–85.Google Scholar
1999/2004 “Texts, translation and subtitling—In theory, and in Denmark”. Gottlieb 2000/2004 1–40.Google Scholar
2000/2004Screen translation: Seven studies in subtitling, dubbing and voice¬over. Copenhagen: Center for Translation Studies, Department of English, University of Copenhagen.Google Scholar
Gummerus, Eivor Catrine Paro
2001 “Translation quality: An organizational viewpoint”. Gambier and Gottlieb 2001 133–142.Google Scholar
Hermans, Theo
1996 “The translator’s voice in translated narrative”. Target 8:1. 23–48.   Crossref logoGoogle Scholar
James, Heulwen
2001 “Quality control of subtitles: Review or preview?Gambier and Gottlieb 2001 151–160.Google Scholar
[ p. 268 ]
Jääskeläinen, Riitta
2005 “Av-kääntämisen tutkimustarpeet Suomessa” [The needs for AVT¬studies in Finland]. Paper presented at the Annual meeting of Finnish researchers on Translation and Interpreting, Kouvola, April 2005.
Krims Adam
2000Rap music and the poetics of identity. Cambridge/New York etc.: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
Leighton, Lauren G.
1991Two worlds, one art: Literary translation in Russia and America. DeKalb: Northern Illinois University Press.Google Scholar
Leppihalme, Ritva
1997Culture bumps: An empirical approach to the translation of allusions. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.Google Scholar
Mason, Ian
1989 “Speaker meaning and reader meaning: Preserving coherence in screen trans¬lating”. Rainer Kölmel and Jerry Payne, eds. Babel: The cultural and linguistic barriers be¬tween nations. Glasgow, Aberdeen: Aberdeen University Press 1989 13–24.Google Scholar
2001 “Coherence in subtitling: The negotiation of face”. Frederic Chaume and Rosa Agost, eds. La traducción en los medios audiovisuals. Castelló: Publications de la Universitat Jaume I 2001 19–31.Google Scholar
Nord, Christiane
1991Text analysis in translation: Theory, methodology, and didactic applica¬tion of a model for translation-oriented text analysis. Amsterdam/Atlanta: Rodopi.Google Scholar
Oittinen, Riitta
2004Kuvakirja kääntäjän kädessä [The picture book in the translator’s hand]. Helsinki: Lasten Keskus.Google Scholar
Oxford English Dictionary on-line
Scandura, Gabriela L.
2004 “Sex, lies and TV: Censorship and subtitling”. Meta 49:1. 125–134.   Crossref logoGoogle Scholar
Schiavi, Giuliana
1996 “There is always a teller in a tale”. Target 8:1. 1–21.   Crossref logoGoogle Scholar
Tomaskiewicz, Teresa
2001 “Transfert des références culturelles dans les sous-titres filmiques”. Gambier and Gottlieb 2001 237–247.Google Scholar
Toury, Gideon
1995Descriptive Translation Studies and beyond. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins.   Crossref logoGoogle Scholar
2002 “What’s the problem with ‘Translation Problem’?Barbara Lewandowska-Tomaszczyk and Marcel Thelen, eds. Translation and meaning Part 6: Proceedings of the Łódź Session of the 3rd International Maastricht- Łódź Duo Colloquium on “Translation and Meaning”, Held in Łódź, Poland, 22–24 September 2000. Maastricht: Maastricht School of Translation and Interpreting 2002 57–71.Google Scholar
Venuti, Lawrence
1995The translator’s invisibility: A history of translation. London/New York: Routledge.   Crossref logoGoogle Scholar
Wikipedia on-line